The White Cliffs of Dover
The White Cliffs of Dover is one of those overlong MGM wartime films that everyone seems to have seen a part of, but no one can remember the film as a sum total. Based on a poem by Alice Duer Miller, the story chronicles the trials and tribulations of one courageous woman through two world wars. Irene Dunne plays an American girl who, in 1914, falls in love with titled Englishman Alan Marshal. At the end of World War 1 in 1918, it is painfully clear that Marshal will not be returning from the battlefields. Remaining loyal to her husband, Irene vows to raise their child in England. Played by Roddy McDowell in his early scenes, Irene's son grows up to be Peter Lawford. At the outbreak of World War 2, Irene despairs at the thought of losing another loved one, but Lawford convinces her that his dad would have wanted him to answer his country's call to the colors. While working as a Red Cross volunteer, Irene finds that she must tend her own mortally wounded son. Unable to save his life, she is grief-stricken, but is gratified with the notion that neither her husband nor her boy have died in vain. Like many films of its ilk and era, White Cliffs of Dover struck a responsive chord with filmgoers, to the tune of a $4 million profit. Watch for a touching scene between Roddy McDowell and 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor; 19 years later, lifelong friends Roddy and Liz would be playing mortal enemies in Cleopatra (1963).